Parents’ experiences of caring for preterm infants after discharge with grandmothers as their main support

Document Type

Journal Article




School of Nursing and Midwifery




Adama, E. A., Bayes, S., & Sundin, D. (2018). Parents’ experiences of caring for preterm infants after discharge with grandmothers as their main support. Journal of clinical nursing, 27(17-18), 3377-3386. Available here


Aims and objectives

To explore parents of preterm infants’ experiences of caring for their preterm infants with the grandmother as their primary support after discharge.


Preterm delivery is the major cause of high neonatal mortality in sub‐Saharan Africa. There is poor neonatal health outcome in the Ghanaian community with some illnesses culturally classified as not‐for‐hospital. In the community, grandmothers or older women provide support for new parents and decide treatment options for sick infants. However, there is paucity of research on how parents of preterm infants experience this support in the Ghanaian community.


Qualitative narrative inquiry methodology was used. Face‐to‐face interviews using semi‐structured interview guide were used to collect data from 21 mothers and nine fathers. Participant observation and field notes were used to complement interview data. Thematic content analysis of data within the three‐dimensional narrative space was employed. Analysis focussed on the relationship of time, place, person and cultural practices affecting the care of preterm infants in the community.


Three themes emerged from the data, namely (i) Grandmother's prescriptions, (ii) Fighting for the well‐being of the infant and (iii) Being in a confused state. Cultural practices mainly initiated by grandmothers resulted in adverse health problems for preterm infants and disruption in parents’ mental health.


As grandmothers perform their traditional role of supporting new parents to care for preterm infants after discharge, they give both positive and negative advice which can adversely affect the health of vulnerable preterm infants in the community.

Relevance to clinical practice

Grandmothers are the main support providers of parents of preterm infants after neonatal unit discharge. Nurses should identify and include grandmothers in predischarge education in order to equip them to render appropriate support to parents and preterm infants.



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